Italy 2011: Day 5

I just got back from an amazing ten day vacation in Italy with my folks! This is Day 5 of our trip.

We spent our first (and only) full day in Florence exploring some of the region’s most famous museums. We visited the Bargello National Museum and the Uffizi Gallery in the afternoon. By the time we were done, we were pretty much museum-ed out!

Unfortunately (but understandably), neither museum allowed photography (or, in my case, snapshots) inside the museums, so I don’t have a ton of pictures to show you. The ones I do have after the jump!

After breakfast, we headed to the Bargello, which is famous for its collection of sculpture. It contains works by Michelangelo, Donatello, and other renowned artists. (The museum also has a curious collection of bright yellow glazed terracotta religious scenes. They weren’t my cup of tea, but they certainly were prolific.) The museum is housed in a former prison, and some of the rooms contained plaques explaining how the now-large rooms would have been divided to house prisoners.

statue in the Bargello courtyard

By the time we left the Bargello, we were hungry again. We set out looking for a place mentioned in my Rough Guide, but it seemed to have closed. (Or vanished into thin air. We could find where it should have been, but it was no longer there.) Just down the street, however, we stumbled on Trattoria Gabriello, which turned out to be a great find. One of the specials that day was a traditional Tuscan pappa al pomodoro, which is tomato soup that has been thickened with bread. It sounds kind of gross, but it was so amazing. I fully intend to attempt to recreate that here at home.

We then walked around the Piazza della Signoria and took in the statuary. My favorite piece was Cellini’s Perseus, a rather gruesome interpretation of the mythical hero brandishing the head of Medusa. (It wasn’t my favorite because of the entrails, of course! I like bronze statues, and it’s one of my favorite myths.)

reading the guidebook to Mom

Fountain of Neptune

Perseus

replica of David and Hercules and Cacus outside Palazzo Vecchio

We had a 2:00 pm reservation at the Uffizi Gallery, so, after our tour of the piazza, we headed over to pick up our tickets. Once we got an eyeful of the queue for people who hadn’t reserved tickets, I was really glad that we had thought ahead! The Uffizi is located in a grand building that was originally constructed as offices for Medici’s magistrates. After the Medicis lost power, the collection was bequeathed the city with the condition that it remain in Florence. Although some of the pieces were removed to other galleries (such as most of the statuary to the Bargello), it all remained in Florence. The collection is quite staggering, both in size and quality.

I would say that the most famous painting, at least with the general population, in the Uffizi is Boticelli’s The Birth of Venus. I always find it a little strange to see famous art in person. It’s always smaller or larger than you expected, and there’s something bizarre about seeing such a familiar image in its original state. (I still feel that way when I see Starry Night at MoMA, despite having seen it countless times before.) The Birth of Venus was no exception; it was kind of a trip there with it, and I had a hard time moving on. When I did move on, however, I discovered my favorite piece in the Uffizi: Primavera, also by Botticelli.

The Birth of Venus (image via Wikipedia)

Primavera (image via Wikipedia)

We were pretty exhausted after we left the Uffizi, and so we relaxed with some gelato. Later that night, we had dinner at Enzo e Piero, a cozy little trattoria recommended by our hotel.

Coming up next: We tour the Tuscan countryside!

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